The human lung and its functions are extremely sensitive to gravity; however, the conventional high-field magnets used for most laser-polarized He-3 MRI of the human lung restrict subjects to lying horizontally. Imaging of human lungs using inhaled laser-polarized 3 He gas is demonstrated in an open-access very-low-magnetic-field (< 5 mT) MRI instrument. This prototype device employs a simple, low-cost electromagnet, with an open geometry that allows variation of the orientation of the imaging subject in a two-dimensional plane. As a demonstration, two-dimensional lung images were acquired with 4-mm in-plane resolution from a subject in two orientations: lying supine and sitting in a vertical position with one arm raised. Experience with this prototype device will guide optimization of a second-generation very-low-field imager to enable studies of human pulmonary physiology as a function of subject orientation. Magn Reson Med 53:745-749, 2005. (c) 2005 WileyLiss, Inc.